In a fair world, all truckers would obey traffic laws, pull off the road when tired, and pay rapt attention to their surroundings.
In the real world, a shortage of truckers creates pressures and financial incentives for drivers to push themselves to the maximum, working up to 80 hours in 8-days. Worse, some drivers break the law and exceed California’s 80 hours 8-day rule.
The result is accidents due to speeding, fatigue, and aggressive driving.
You have the right to compensation if you have been injured in a truck accident. Medical bills lost income, pain, suffering, and other damages are compensable under California law. Anyone hurt by a truck accident deserves full compensation for their financial losses, pain, and diminished ability to live life to the fullest.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Truck Accident Claim in San Diego?
Yes, it would be best to have a lawyer for a truck accident claim in San Diego.
Accidents involving cars and private vehicles are often simpler than truck accident cases. In addition, truck accidents tend to be severe, leading to much larger damages. Retaining a strong truck accident lawyer is even more important when involved in a truck accident.
Truck accident cases require extensive investigation. Multiple parties potentially bear responsibility, including the driver, trucking company, truck maintenance company, cargo loading company, and government entities. Sometimes, multiple defendants bear the blame.
Because of this, you need a truck accident lawyer who knows how to get to the bottom of the accident’s cause, build an unassailable case, and prosecute aggressively against multiple defense teams.
When multiple defendants are sued, they may work to transfer as much of the blame onto the plaintiff and other defendants. Because of this, a truck accident lawyer must defend his client against false attempts to pin the blame on the plaintiff and reduce a settlement or award based on comparative negligence.
In addition, your truck accident lawyer needs to prevent the defense from damaging your claim by confusing the issue of which defendant is to blame. All defendants share liability, and your lawyer fights to ensure you receive all the compensation you deserve.
Your San Diego truck accident lawyer must investigate all potential causes of the accident and determine all the liable parties, including the following:
The Truck Driver
Truck drivers seem obvious defendants, and, in most cases, the driver is liable, especially when his vehicle operation caused or contributed to the accident. However, the driver may not be solely responsible.
Truck drivers have a duty of care toward other motorists. They must obey traffic laws, take precautions to avoid accidents, take action to mitigate collisions, and drive according to Department of Transportation regulations. A failure to do any of these makes a trucker negligent and liable.
In many cases, driver error is to blame. Semi-trucks are challenging to maneuver, and drivers must be competent, attentive, and respect other drivers to operate their rigs safely. When they make an error, like hitting a vehicle because of taking a turn too widely, the driver has caused the accident through negligence.
Fatigue is also a significant factor in truck accidents. Spending up to 14 hours per day behind the wheel of a big rig wears down drivers, making them sleepy and increasing their reaction time. Many truck accidents occur because the overworked driver falls asleep.
Other instances involve illegal conduct. For example, we have all seen trucks speeding. Truckers make money based on the mileage covered, so they are financially incentivized to cover more distance per hour.
Also, truckers may compete with other drivers to be available for the next assignment and meet demands from trucking companies and logistics clients. For all these reasons, truckers often disregard the speed limit.
As with many jobs, boredom settles in during a long shift. Theoretically, truckers should remain max attentive to the road at all times. However, in reality, they may alleviate boredom by talking on the phone, texting, and engaging in other activities that divert their attention.
A few truck drivers get behind the wheel while drinking alcohol or drugs. The law prohibits truckers from driving while intoxicated or on recreational drugs. Truckers who engage in egregious conduct, like working under the influence or high, may face punitive damages.
The Trucking Company
Trucking companies may be directly- or indirectly liable for accidents caused by their drivers.
Direct liability arises when the trucking company engages in dangerous actions or enforces policies that endanger the public. For example, a trucking company may contribute to a collision by hiring unqualified drivers, providing inadequate supervision, or neglecting truck maintenance.
Trucking companies also have vicarious liability when their drivers cause an accident. Winning under vicarious liability is no need for the plaintiff to prove the trucking company engaged in misconduct. Instead, the plaintiff prevails, provided he establishes that an employment relationship existed between the company and the driver. The driver was on the job at the time of the incident.
Many trucking companies attempt to avoid vicarious liability by classifying drivers as independent contractors. However, this defense only succeeds if the driver operates his own business. Courts often find that the driver was treated as an employee but classified as an independent contractor for liability purposes. In that case, the trucking company’s defense often fails.
Liability of Truck Manufacturers
Not all accidents happen because of driver error or trucking company misconduct. For example, some truck accidents result from a mechanical defect in the truck attributable to the manufacturer.
Claims may be based on manufacturing defects. They involve flaws in the assembly of the truck. To win, plaintiffs must prove the defect contributed to the injury.
Truck Maintenance Companies
Many trucking companies rely on separate entities to maintain and repair their trucks. For example, a truck sometimes has mechanical problems related to these maintenance and repair activities. Truck maintenance companies have liability when they fail to do their job correctly, either by overlooking an issue or fixing it improperly.
For example, the maintenance provider may have failed to fix a problem with the brakes or completed the job improperly. However, if this error causes an injury accident, the maintenance provider has liability.
Cargo loaders must secure loads on flatbed trucks. Often, the material on these trucks breaks loose, debris hitting other vehicles or falling onto the roadway. These hazards cause severe injuries to people in other vehicles for which the cargo loader bears responsibility.
Accidents also occur when closed trailers are overloaded or packed improperly. In these cases, the driver may lose control of the vehicle due to shifting cargo or excessive weight.
Truck drivers must inspect their load before embarkation. Failure to identify an unsecured load may result in the driver sharing liability.
Some accidents occur because of poor road maintenance instead of driver error, mechanical failure, or unsecured loads. For example, the government entities responsible for maintaining the roadway have liability when trucks crash due to road defects.
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Why Choose Shamon Law As Your Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers?
An injury can leave you with mounting medical expenses, lost income, and an inability to participate in your life fully. No accident victim should be left to fend for themselves.
Shamon law understands how important these cases are for our clients. Our experience includes going up against the big insurance companies and winning. We use our expertise to develop powerful cases, negotiate the best possible settlements, and win cases at trial.
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Common Types of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents tend to follow similar patterns, with these five accident types being the most prevalent:
- Head-on collisions
- Rollover accidents
- T-bone accidents
- Sideswipe accidents
- Rear-end collisions
Head-on collisions happen when two vehicles traveling in opposite directions collide. They are amongst the most dangerous kinds of truck accidents. When vehicles collide head-on, the force of each one’s speed is compounded, resulting in extreme destruction.
A head-on collision with a truck leads to severe injury and death for those in the other vehicle. Pay attention to your lane positioning and pass with care on two-lane roadways to prevent head-on collisions.
Remember that when traveling in opposite directions, vehicles close in on each other at the rate of each vehicle’s speed added together. For this reason, trucks that look far away bear down on you much faster than they first appear.
Rollover Truck Accident
You’ve probably seen pictures of trucks rolled over on the highway or lying in the median or shoulder. When trucks spin out of control, they tend to tip. Unfortunately, driver error is often to blame, such as taking an exit ramp too quickly.
T-bone accidents often happen at major intersections. Speeding and improper passing are often to blame. When truckers disregard safety to make time, they increase their odds of causing a T-bone collision.
The poor passing technique can cause truckers to sideswipe vehicles in other lanes. Semis have wide blind spots, and drivers who change lanes abruptly may never see the vehicle they strike. Sideswipes also happen due to blowouts, road obstacles, and high winds.
Rear-End Truck Collisions
Following too closely is a cardinal sin in any vehicle but is especially dangerous in a truck. Trucks take far longer to stop than cars, so if traffic ahead halts suddenly, the trucker may need help to bring his rig to a stop in time. Whenever possible, stay far from tailgating truckers.
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Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Driver error, mechanical failure, and disregard for traffic laws play a part in most truck accidents. When driven carefully by attentive drivers, trucks provide a safe form of goods transportation. Unfortunately, humans lose focus, tire, and bend the rules, leading to accidents.
Common causes of truck accidents include the following:
- Following too closely
- Poor passing technique
- Distracted driving
- Mechanical failure
- Inadequate maintenance
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Driving too many hours at a time
- Driving for long periods too many days in a row
- Loss of braking ability on mountain downslopes
- Excessive reliance on stimulants
- Use of narcotics
- Driving while intoxicated
- Aggressive driving
- Road rage
California Truck Accident Facts and Statistics
Between 200 and 360 individuals each year in California, are killed in truck accidents. On I-5, I-10, and I-715, collisions are the most common. The majority of truck accidents in California occur in Los Angeles County.
California Truck Accident Laws
Truck drivers must obtain a commercial driver’s license after completing the required training. In addition, those transporting hazardous materials must obtain a special certification.
Drivers must also adhere to California’s 80-hour, 8-day rule. It limits them to 80 hours of driving per eight days, requires them to take breaks during the day, and imposes a minimum 34-hour rest period between each eight-day work period.
As with other accidents, California law judges truck accident liability according to comparative negligence. For example, a court can find truckers anywhere between 0% and 100% at fault by this code. However, his liability depends partly on the court’s finding of his comparative negligence.
What to do after a Truck Accident in San Diego?
After a truck accident in San Diego, contact emergency services right away. You may need medical attention, and the law requires reporting truck accidents.
In addition, reporting the accident proves it occurred and facilitates the collection of additional evidence.
Always seek medical help, even if injuries seem minor. In some cases, symptoms manifest over time. For example, if you refuse a medical evaluation and develop symptoms later, the defense may be able to dispute whether the injury resulted from the accident effectively.
Contact a personal injury attorney specializing in truck accidents as soon as possible. Often, there are multiple causes, and several parties are liable for the damages. For example, a truck accident lawyer will investigate the claim, build a case, negotiate with the defense, and try the case if needed.
How Much is My Truck Accident Case Worth / Compensation for Accident Victims?
Truck accidents can be worth anywhere between five and eight figures.
For instance, a low-speed collision causing property damage may be a five-figure case. On the other hand, a head-on collision at high speed resulting in lifelong disabilities or wrongful death may be worth in the six-, seven-, or eight figures.
Contact a Top-Rated San Diego Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Shamon Law’s truck accident lawyers know how to prove trucker and trucking industry liability. Contact Shamon Law for a free consultation.
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San Diego Truck Accident FAQs
California law requires plaintiffs to file personal injury claims within two years from the date of the incident.
Cases against government entities, such as road defect claims, must lodge these complaints with the responsible unit before anyone may file a lawsuit. You must lodge these complaints within 10 months.
You need to report the accident to your insurance provider.
However, consult an attorney before speaking to an opposing insurance company. The opposing insurer may attempt to convince you to accept a low settlement, hoping that you will not understand the full damages to which you are entitled.
Also, the insurer may record the conversation and use your statements against you.
Refer all such calls to your lawyer.
Many parties can be liable in a truck accident. Possible defendants in a truck accident case include the following:
- The truck driver
- Drivers of other vehicles
- The trucking company
- Truck maintenance companies
- Truck manufacturers
California personal injury law applies the pure comparative negligence standard.
According to this framework, you have entitlement to damages despite having contributed to the accident.
For example, the truck driver is liable if a truck hits your vehicle. On the other hand, a court may determine that you were speeding and the speeding contributed to the accident. Nonetheless, you can collect damages.
However, the court will reduce your claim by determining your proportional contribution to the accident.
For instance, imagine that your truck accident resulted in $100,000 in damages, and the court determined that you are 20% at fault for the accident and the truck driver 80%. In that case, you receive $80,000 instead of $100,000.
California’s pure comparative negligence statute allows you to collect damages even if you are more than 51% at fault. For instance, if the court determines you are 60% at fault and the trucker 40%, your $100,000 claim is reduced to $40,000.
You can collect damages if up to 99% are at fault, though they are reduced to 1%.
San Diego truck accident attorneys work on contingency. Contingency fee agreements relieve clients of the need to fund large retainers, pay out of pocket for legal services, and cover court costs and other fees. Clients also only pay if they collect.
Contingency fee structures allow the average person to battle the deep-pocketed insurance industry in court.